GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — K-9 officers and their dogs stood in formation Monday  as the area’s most decorated among them exited a police car for the last time.

Retired Atlantic City K-9 Deuce became the face of the city’s police dogs when — while the unit was taken off the street for a year starting in 2009 — the city won a lawsuit after a jury found no evidence the dog bit a suspect or was improperly used by his handler, Officer William Logan.

“This ends the free buffet of people coming to the city with frivolous lawsuits," then-city Solicitor Bruce Ward said at the time.

“Unfortunately, they were vilified as a K-9 team, but then were shown to be the best of what the Atlantic City police have to offer,” retired police Chief John Mooney said as he stood outside Logan’s Galloway home as Deuce was euthanized inside.

The first time they met, Logan said the skinny, dirty dog came charging up to the new K-9 officer, “put his paws on my shoulders and licked my face.” From then on, they were a team.

Logan, who officially retired two years after Deuce in 2010, said making Monday’s decision was the hardest thing he ever had to do, but that he wanted the ailing 14½-year-old dog to go out with dignity.

A caravan of police cars drove from Logan’s home to the John “Sonny” Burke K-9 Academy on Monday afternoon so Deuce could have one last visit there. Upon seeing the sleeve used for training, the dog suffering from bad hips and cataracts eased himself up and went over to it. Not the attack of the dog he once was, but an obvious recognition.

“This is where it all started,” Logan said as he crouched down face-to-face with Deuce on Monday. “It will never end. You’re a legend. You’re a legend forever.”

And he has the awards to prove it, including 79 departmental commendations, 29 PBA medals of honor and twice being named K-9 Officer of the Year. He also was named to the state’s Animal Hall of Fame in 2006.

“I’m going to put all those awards on the wall and look at them,” Logan said after Deuce was gone. “I’ll never forget him. ... We’ll see each other again. We will.”

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